Reviews

Library Journal
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

The poems in this new work span the years from 1981, when Hirsch published his first book, For the Sleepwalkers, to the present (represented by a section of new poems that open the book)-almost 30 years of work. This new volume takes us on a tour of Hirsch's growth and development as a poet. They are one poetic voice piecing together the fragments of a self, (re)considering a life; a psyche on its Jungian journey toward integration, almost rabbinical in its spiritual interrogations. Occasionally, the poems seem to rely on too easy, romanticized endings, but overall the poems, like "Abortion" (Night Parade), are unflinching. Steeped in the language and pictorial vibrancies of the visual arts, Hirsch allows himself to enter and be surrounded by whatever imagination has arranged for him on the mind's canvas. Verdict Though there are weaker moments, especially when he's working with form (the long new poem built of haikus falls into this category), there are also poems of brilliant strangeness and piercing truths- "Village Idiot" from the middle years and the recent "Last Saturday," when a "new exterminator arrives...so early, [and] without warning." The voice of the poet in these poems is hard on itself but also tenacious about the possibilities of hope. Highly recommended.-Susan Kelly-DeWitt, Univ. of California, Davis/Sacramento City Coll. Copyright 2010 Reed Business Information.


Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Hirsch, a longtime poetry teacher and now the president of the Guggenheim Foundation, is an accessible and widely beloved poet and advocate for poetry. His work combines a playful, tender sense of humor, awareness of Jewish heritage, love for and identification with Central European and Russian poetry, and an intimate American voice that seeks to elucidate what mysteries it can. This, his first retrospective collection, selects from each of his seven previous collections, published between 1981 and 2008. The early poems attempt to characterize people in terms of and against the everyday world that surrounds them, and the art that depicts that world, as in "Still Life: An Argument": "the knife/ keeps falling and falling, but never/ falls. That knife could be us." Middle poems pay homage to and learn from classical culture and world religions: "...I believe the saint:/ Nothing stays the same/ in the shimmering heat." More recent poems confront aging and family ("My father in the night shuffling from room to room/ is no longer a father or a husband or a son,// but a boy standing on the edge of a forest"), while the newest wonder about the poet's own mortality, and track love lost and found. Hirsch has many wise things to say; this book is a trove of them. (Mar.) Copyright 2010 Reed Business Information.


Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

A poet's first selected collection is a landmark, and this incandescent gathering reminds readers of just how accomplished Hirsch was right from the start. In For the Sleepwalkers (1981), he writes, I've come here to stand / like a pilgrim, thus declaring his sense of awe and hope as he enters the realm of poetry and reaches out to poets who have gone before him. One such poet is Christopher Smart, who inspired the title poem in Wild Gratitude (1986), in which the key phrase, the living fire, now this book's resonant title, resides. For Hirsch, the poet is a night watchman, lifting a torch against the darkness. But both the ecstasy of fire and the fire of grief blaze and rampage in well-chosen poems from each of Hirsch's seven previous collections as he revisits scenes from his childhood and a broken marriage, and evokes with radiant insight dawn and dusk, desire and loss, and the endless struggle between body and mind. And Hirsch's brilliant, deeply pleasurable new poems create an arresting conflagration of scorching sorrow and sweetness, mischievous wit and retribution.--Seaman, Donna Copyright 2010 Booklist


Library Journal
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

The poems in this new work span the years from 1981, when Hirsch published his first book, For the Sleepwalkers, to the present (represented by a section of new poems that open the book)-almost 30 years of work. This new volume takes us on a tour of Hirsch's growth and development as a poet. They are one poetic voice piecing together the fragments of a self, (re)considering a life; a psyche on its Jungian journey toward integration, almost rabbinical in its spiritual interrogations. Occasionally, the poems seem to rely on too easy, romanticized endings, but overall the poems, like "Abortion" (Night Parade), are unflinching. Steeped in the language and pictorial vibrancies of the visual arts, Hirsch allows himself to enter and be surrounded by whatever imagination has arranged for him on the mind's canvas. Verdict Though there are weaker moments, especially when he's working with form (the long new poem built of haikus falls into this category), there are also poems of brilliant strangeness and piercing truths- "Village Idiot" from the middle years and the recent "Last Saturday," when a "new exterminator arrives...so early, [and] without warning." The voice of the poet in these poems is hard on itself but also tenacious about the possibilities of hope. Highly recommended.-Susan Kelly-DeWitt, Univ. of California, Davis/Sacramento City Coll. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Publishers Weekly
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Hirsch, a longtime poetry teacher and now the president of the Guggenheim Foundation, is an accessible and widely beloved poet and advocate for poetry. His work combines a playful, tender sense of humor, awareness of Jewish heritage, love for and identification with Central European and Russian poetry, and an intimate American voice that seeks to elucidate what mysteries it can. This, his first retrospective collection, selects from each of his seven previous collections, published between 1981 and 2008. The early poems attempt to characterize people in terms of and against the everyday world that surrounds them, and the art that depicts that world, as in "Still Life: An Argument": "the knife/ keeps falling and falling, but never/ falls. That knife could be us." Middle poems pay homage to and learn from classical culture and world religions: "...I believe the saint:/ Nothing stays the same/ in the shimmering heat." More recent poems confront aging and family ("My father in the night shuffling from room to room/ is no longer a father or a husband or a son,// but a boy standing on the edge of a forest"), while the newest wonder about the poet's own mortality, and track love lost and found. Hirsch has many wise things to say; this book is a trove of them. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved